In this installment of the Renters' Diaries, a couple with plans to have a baby decides to leave the cheaper climes of Queens for an area that feels like home. Here's how they did it.
We were living in Woodside, in a $2,050/month, new construction 800-square-foot two-bedroom in a small building of mostly owner-occupied condos a few blocks from the 61st Street express stop, with a 400-square-foot terrace and a $150/month parking spot behind the building. We'd been there for four years. Despite the incredible ethnic food (blocks from a few of the best Thai spots in the country ain't bad), easy commute to midtown, and proximity to both airports (important for folks who travel a lot), we never really jived with the hood.
The neighbors were nicemostly young immigrant familiesbut really kept completely to themselves. And we felt farfar from friends, from downtown, from what makes New York fun as a young couple, far from open green space, and, for two long-distance runners, far from a nice place to run. Finally, we were about ready to start a family, and felt like we really wanted more space before we did.
All that added up to us starting to feel like we no longer enjoyed living in NYC. After spending a summer away working short-term in Los Angeles, and a bump in both our incomes, we made the decision to look around and see whether we could do better. We really just decided it was worth spending more on rent for the right place in the right neighborhoodsomewhere that revived our love for this city.
Our lease was up at the end of January, so we started looking at the end of November just to get a sense of what was out there. We used StreetEasy and Craigslist. We saw three or four places in Williamsburg, which from Woodside, and with a car, had been our main escape into Brooklynonly 15 minutes away.
One was a joke of a four-bedroom for around $4keach room was just large enough for a bed and the kitchen was pint-sizedon South 1st St, and we saw sparkling apartments in new buildings, 55 Hope St and 15 Dunham Place, that were also in the mid-$4 to mid-$5k range but were just tiny. We were hoping to spend closer to $3,500, and we were just completely frustrated by what we had been able to find.
At that point it was the beginning of December, and one night when I couldn't sleep I was trawling StreetEasy restlessly and found a beautiful ~1,500-square-foot two-bedroom loft on Dean Street in Boerum Hill for $3,600and it wasn't available until March 1.
For whatever reason, they had posted it very early, and we went to see it the next morning with our checkbook in hand.
We wrote a check for the credit check on the spot when we saw the place, submitted our application as soon as we got home, and got the thumbs up the next day. In this market and in this city, we know how important it is to be decisive. A 15% broker's fee (ugh, but unavoidable) and a deposit later, it was ours.
The apartment is in a beautiful old building. It was a small brewery in the late 19th century, and then a cosmetics factory before it was converted into 11 rental apartments. The space is a fantastic layout for starting a familyit's a huge loft living space, which is part kitchen, part dining room, part living room, part playspace for the soon-to-arrive little one, and then two bedrooms and one bath.
We took the smaller bedroom, which has beautiful sliding french doors, and made the second bedroom a nursery/office. Off our bedroom is a small outdoor space, just large enough to sit outside and eat and have a small gas grill, which is huge.
The neighborhood is kind of strangewe're really at the juncture of Boerum Hill, Gowanus, Park Slope, and the Barclays area, which means there's not much residential right around our place. This works great for us because we can walk to so many different areas and can also park our car on the street shockingly easily.
We consider ourselves incredibly lucky that we found this place and nabbed the lease. Though our rent almost doubled, we think it's incredibly reasonable for the space, and half the battle is feeling like you got a deal. We're paying for the space, yes, but also for the neighborhood, for being steps from 10 subway lines, for easy access to great places to run in Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park, and for all the amazing food and drink right around the corner. It's not an exaggeration to say moving to this place restored our love for living in NYC, which I guess is the ultimate test of how well things are working out here.
· West Village Renter Gets In Bidding War For 'Grown-Up' Pad [Curbed]
· A North Brooklyn Renter Finds More Space In Crown Heights [Curbed]
· Renter Report archive [Curbed]
· All Renters Week 2013 coverage [Curbed]